Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rinsing Your Mouth with Carb-Containing Liquids Can Rev Up Your Workout

Wouldnt it be great if you could work out harder than usual and like it better too? Well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Physiology, it might be easier than you think! English researchers have found that simply swishing some carbohydrate-containing liquids around your mouth may be enough to give you a mental boost and improve the intensity and duration of exercise.

Participants in the study were endurance-trained athletes who rinsed their mouths with solutions containing either glucose or maltodextrin (both sugars), or saccharin, an artificial sweetener. Their exercise endurance was then tested by completing a cycle time trial to see if the solutions made any difference. In addition, all participants underwent an fMRI brain scan to identify any changes in brain activity in response to the solutions.

Not only did the athletes complete the cycle time trials more quickly when they swished with the sugar-containing solutions, but their fMRI's also indicated that the reward and motor control regions were activated in their brains. This means that the athletes were able to work harder while feeling fewer negative effects of exercise while they were training. This was not found in participants who swished with artificially-sweetened solutions, leading the researchers to believe that there may be receptors in the mouth that activate specific brain regions in response to carbohydrates before they are even swallowed.

While working out, we lose a lot of water and electrolytes through sweating and hard breathing, so another bonus of these carbohydrate-containing beverages is their ability to rehydrate and cool our bodies. A word of caution is in order, however, since most mainstream sports drinks pack hundreds of calories and artificial ingredients which essentially replace the calories that you've just burned while busting your butt working out! A better idea: try making your own sports-drink (lots of recipes are available online) which can do the exact same thing as your standard-issue gatorade or powerade, with a lot less sugar and calories, and not to mention food-colouring!